al-Qaeda

Need to Know
September 23, 2002

If the Bush administration’s preparations for war with Saddam Hussein were proceeding appropriately, the president would probably be curling up right now with something called a National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) for Iraq. An NIE is a document pooling all the information on a particular country that U.S. intelligence services have collected from overheard phone calls, satellite photos, decrypted e-mails, defectors, paid informants, foreign intelligence services, diplomat tipsters, newspaper articles, and official speeches.

Need to Know
September 23, 2002

If the Bush administration's preparations for war with Saddam Hussein were proceeding appropriately, the president would probably be curling up right now with something called a National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) for Iraq. An NIE is a document pooling all the information on a particular country that U.S. intelligence services have collected from overheard phone calls, satellite photos, decrypted e-mails, defectors, paid informants, foreign intelligence services, diplomat tipsters, newspaper articles, and official speeches.

Old Guard
September 09, 2002

The United States added a critical ounce of prevention to its war on terrorism last week. One hundred pounds of prevention, actually, in the form of bomb-grade, highly enriched uranium airlifted from Serbia to Russia for safekeeping. The nuclear material had been sitting around for more than a decade at Belgrade's Vinca Institute of Nuclear Sciences—a decrepit civilian nuclear reactor—in small, low-radiation canisters that would have been easy to carry off without special equipment. The site was protected by little more than a barbed-wire fence and a few lightly armed guards.

Drop Zone
September 09, 2002

At 10:15 a.m. on April 17, President George W. Bush demonstrated just how much his foreign policy outlook has matured since September 11. Honoring the winners of the Virginia Military Institute's (VMI) George C. Marshall ROTC Award, Bush summoned the spirit of the architect of U.S. postwar nation- building to signal his newfound appreciation for such tasks. Where during the campaign Bush had dismissed nation-building as glorified social work, at VMI he outlined an expansive vision of America's continuing commitment to post-Taliban Afghanistan.

Private Enemy
July 08, 2002

It is June 2005. As chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Vermont Democrat Patrick Leahy goes on a fact-finding mission to Guantanamo Bay, where he meets with Al Qaeda prisoners of war. Furious over Leahy's refusal to confirm federal judges, President George W. Bush plots revenge. When Leahy arrives at Washington Dulles International Airport, he is arrested by military police on the grounds that he has passed information to the enemy and is therefore an enemy combatant.

Finger Tip
June 24, 2002

On its face, Attorney General John Ashcroft's plan, announced last week, to fingerprint about 100,000 foreigners visiting the United States each year sounds prudent. Since "fingerprints don't lie," as Ashcroft recently put it, fingerprinting visitors from Arab and Muslim nations should be a reliable way of identifying terrorists who would otherwise quickly disappear inside the country. In fact, until recently even liberals endorsed this logic.

On the Hill: Plan B
June 24, 2002

At an early June meeting of Republican activists in California, White House political director Ken Mehlman set the stage for the November congressional elections. Delivering a slick PowerPoint presentation with 27 slides bearing short, declarative sentences and nifty national maps, Mehlman summarized the parties' competing approaches with boardroom efficiency. First he explained the by-now-familiar Democratic strategy: Support George W.

Home Alone
June 24, 2002

As TNR went to press, John Ashcroft's revelation that the United States had captured an Al Qaeda operative seeking to build a dirty bomb was distracting attention from President George W. Bush's dramatic unveiling of his plan for a Department of Homeland Security. That announcement, in turn, had distracted attention from whistle-blower Coleen Rowley's testimony about FBI bungling, which, in turn, had distracted attention from the Democrats' call for a blueribbon commission to investigate the intelligence failures preceding September 11. All of which is fine, as far as it goes.

Black Hawk Up
March 25, 2002

Thermobaric, thermoshmaric: The Battle of Shah-i-Kot Valley has established what should have been perfectly plain from the beginning of the American action in Central Asia, which is that victory—that is, the destruction of the forces of Al Qaeda and the Taliban and the subsequent stabilization of Afghanistan—is not possible without the commitment of American ground troops. The momentous mistake of Tora Bora, where the climax of Operation Enduring Freedom turned into its anti-climax, as we gave control of the porous border with Pakistan to a bunch of lethargic and corruptible Afghan irregulars—

Troop Movement
March 25, 2002

Last week, in the middle of the Battle of Gardez, theater commander Army General Tommy Franks expressed his condolences to the families of American soldiers who lost their lives “in our ongoing operations in Vietnam.” It was a strange slip. In truth, recent ground operations in Afghanistan have had exactly the opposite resonance: Never in the past 30 years has the specter of Vietnam been further from the minds of American military planners. The involvement of sizable numbers of conventional Army forces in sustained combat is a remarkable development in itself, one not seen since the Gulf war.

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